Huge thanks to Eilidh for the support! (3/3)
After their swordsmanship lesson, young Gerard always went through a few hours of personal training. The same routine also happened that day.
“Oh, you blockhead.”
Leila shook her head and arranged her sword. When she watched him spar, he didn’t seem good and he couldn’t even concentrate on the match. Why didn’t he know that resting was also part of training?
‘Don’t worry, let’s not worry about it. What kind of words will I hear if I talk to him now?’
However, Gerard’s bandage-wrapped hand came into Leila’s view as he left the training hall. Of course, it was common for knights who trained intensely to have bandages on their hands. However…
It was never common for bandages to turn so red that its original color was unrecognizable.
“Hey, what is this?!”
Leila grabbed Gerard’s hand.
“What? Let go.”
Gerard shook off Leila’s hand coldly.
“No, you’re bleeding!”
“…Why do you care?”
“I don’t want to care about you. But your hands are like this and you still sparred today?”
“Don’t mind me.”
“Is that the only thing you can say?”
“…Just worry about yourself.”
“Don’t say that, look at your injuries! How did you even practice in this condition? Your hands…”
“Get away from me.”
Gerard whipped off her touch, but Leila was one step ahead. The girl untied the bandage swiftly and saw the wound under it. It wasn’t the marks of bruising and bloody blisters from practicing.
“Did you… get beaten up?”
It was clearly a whip mark. The boy chose to be silent. However, both of them knew that his silence meant yes.
“If your hands are like this, you should’ve canceled today’s lesson!”
“What do you know?”
Gerard muttered in a restrained voice.
“What do you know?! What do you know and why do you keep messing around with me? I told you to get away from me!”
Gerard began to shout upon Leila’s retort. Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes. He was a feisty and perfect young man, but he was still a child in his early teens.
However, his father Daniel’s standards were too high. The child took a test yesterday, and was called in by his father. Gerard’s paper had a few questions wrong because it was a high school level course, but the score was quite good.
Daniel knew that his son had a swordsmanship lesson the next day. Therefore, he intentionally whipped the child’s palm, not his calf. Gerard’s punishment was to take sword lessons and train with his terrible hands.
Gerard was currently being punished at the hands of his father. Venomous words flowed out through the child’s pursed lips.
“Hey, I don’t know anything else, but I know you should not train with these hands!”
“I can’t train with these hands? That just applies to people who live comfortably like you!”
“What? Someone who lives comfortably like me?”
“Yes! Children like you, who have fathers like Sir Stein!”
Gerard’s words were laced with evident disdain and envy.
“I have to do well! I have to do well with these hands!”
Gerard began to scream out of anger. Tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.
Meanwhile, Leila thought it was very strange. Gerard Blanchett, who was lucky his whole life, was venting his anger on her. She was sad even though the situation was obvious enough that it seemed ridiculous and upsetting. She felt really guilty for Gerard, who was screaming in anger.
Leila called her friend’s name in a restrained voice.
“Do you think I’m doing it because I want to?”
“However, I have to do well… to be useful! That’s how I don’t get abandoned…”
Before she realized it, Gerard’s voice was shaking. The boy’s shoulders, which had to bear a lot of burden, shook pitifully. The shackles attached to him were too much.
It was then that Leila embraced Gerard. The girl whispered in her friend’s ear.
“Still, you’re doing great, Gerard.”
It was the only thing Gerard wanted to hear from someone. As if Leila’s words were some sort of signal, Gerard let go of himself and burst into tears while letting out sorrowful noises.
Once he burst into tears, the emotions he had suppressed all this time washed over him. He felt resentful. No matter how good he was, he always got scolded. He was sad and rueful. No matter how hard he tried, his parents never bothered to look at him. That’s why he was very scared and anxious. He felt like he would be abandoned if he became useless.
Did Leila have the ability to read Gerard’s mind?
“I will stay beside you… and I will never abandon you.”
Once again, Leila said what Gerard wanted to hear the most at that moment. The girl made a promise she failed to keep.
As Leila said, they had been together ever since. Thus, the two became very close with each other.
Rumors about them blossomed as their relationship became even closer.
“Oh, Sir Blanchett! He’s so handsome today as well!”
“Wow, seriously! How can a face be so beautiful?!”
From the moment Gerard stepped into society, he constantly grabbed everyone’s attention. Noble blood, exceptional talent, and impeccable manners. It was as if he was a male protagonist stepping out of a romance novel that the young ladies read secretly.
“What are you doing? Young Lady Stein is beside him, so there must be something between them!”
“That’s right! The young Marquis is nice to everyone, but young Lady Stein is definitely different.”
“Right? I’m not the only one who thought that way, right?”
As the young ladies said, Gerard was kind to everyone. However, that was all there was to it. He put up an invisible wall.
Gerard held up the wall with a smile, pushing away anyone who wanted to cross it even just a little bit. He wasn’t very fond of people in the first place, so he didn’t give up easily.
However, Leila Stein was an exception. She was the only woman who could put her arms around Gerard’s neck, hug him as she pleased, and even hold his hand.
At first, there were many people who disapproved of the fact. However, as time went on, the existence of Leila next to Gerard became natural.
Gerard excelled in his work, but his attitude changed when it came to Leila. The nobles who didn’t want the man to have a grudge against them began to walk on eggshells.
As a result, a group of people supporting Gerard and Leila’s love formed. In the process, the rumors became even more exaggerated and romantic.
“I heard they promised to get married when they were young.”
“Young Lady Stein kept holding a sword because she wanted to be with young Master Blanchett longer.”
“Oh, so romantic! The next Marquis and Marchioness of Blanchett will be a knight couple!”
When the rumors circulated and reached the ears of the parties involved, Gerard and Leila became the couple of the century. Leila was uncomfortable with the exaggerated rumors. On the other hand, Gerard didn’t pay much attention.
The contents weren’t bad in the first place, and the rumor wasn’t utter nonsense. Their relationship wasn’t very romantic, but it was true that they would continue to be together.
He also thought the rumors could be a shield for Leila. So there would be no one who could behave recklessly to the future Marchioness of Blanchett.
At that time, Gerard believed he would marry Leila. He also thought that Leila felt the same way.
It was no wonder because in the future that Gerard drew, Leila would always be with him, and Leila always nodded whenever he brought it up.
“Let’s go on a trip to Peytan when we raise our children later.”
Gerard was lying on his back, looking up at the sky, after swordsmanship practice.
“Ahem. I really want to go to the battleground of Peytan.”
The site of the final battle just before the Kingdom of Peytan was destroyed by the Hernia Empire. Gerard really wanted to go there once.
“Why don’t we go now?”
“My father wouldn’t allow it.”
“Then… you can become the Marquis and go there! What are you waiting for?”
“It’s going to be difficult. When I become a Marquis, all my words and actions will be interpreted from a political view.”
The Kingdom of Peytan was subjugated by the Hernia Empire after the last battle and divided into several territories. Among them, Peytan Town, the capital of the kingdom, was still inhabited by Peytan refugees. Therefore, there were always constant political clashes.
If Gerard visited Peytan Town after he became a Marquis… It was clear that people would misunderstand his actions as the request of the Emperor, because he was the key figure in the Emperor’s faction. Gerard felt somewhat suffocated, and took a big breath.
He happened to see a bird crossing the blue sky. He wanted to be free like the bird up there. He wanted to remove everything that tied him in place and fly away.
But it wasn’t time yet.
“…Even so, we still have to wait for a long time.”
“I have to wait! That’s when my life begins.”
Gerard said with a grin. Leila finally understood her friend’s remarks.
In fact, she didn’t understand why Gerard kept saying he couldn’t go to Peytan Town. If he wanted to go to Peytan, he could have gone now or after he became a
Marquis. Of course, there would be many conflicts in the process.
However, now that she saw it, Peytan was only symbolic. He was waiting for a special day to go to Peytan, so he was holding himself back.
As though he was waiting for the day he could be free.
Leila felt her heart becoming heavy. If that was when his life started, what did that mean for Gerard now?
“Will you come with me, Leila?”
“…Of course! Even if you tell me not to follow you, I’ll come, so be prepared for me.”
Leila hesitated for a moment, then smacked Gerard on the shoulder and laughed. Gerard’s face was filled with a brighter smile than she had ever seen before.
There was no exact promise for the future between them. Nevertheless, Gerard had no doubts about what the future would bring for him and Leila.
However, it didn’t take long for Gerard to realize that belief was one sided.
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